From My Knowldege and Experiences

The Charms Of Chilean Wines

Wednesday, August 31, 2022
I will take you to a very interesting country, Chile. Chile extends 4300 km from north to south but is only 160 km wide. Imagine 160 km wide is only about the same as Bundaran HI Jakarta to Gedung Sate Bandung or from Kuta Bali to Gilimanuk port and connects the Pacific Ocean and the Andes Mountains. And from the desert in the north to Patagonia in the South.


Most climatic variations in the wine-growing regions happen from east towest, rather than from north to south. Did you know you can go skiing in the morning in the Andes mountains and go surfing by sunset on the cool Pacific Ocean in the west? Chile is naturally protected on all sides, and as a result of this protection, is known as free from Phylloxera, which is very important as in the 1800s most of the European Vines were destroyed by these little bugs that live and eat the root of the vines and caused seriousdamage to most areas in Europe including Boudreaux.

Chile is classified as a New World country as far as wine is concerned, but actually, the first grape vines were planted as early as the 1500s. and in the 1700sEuropean immigrants brought more varieties, particularly from  Bordeaux. Until the 1990s, most of the country’s wine was consumed domestically, but today, Chile is the sixth-largest wine producer in the world with around 70% of wine being exported. Chile’s most renowned wine regions are O’Higgins, the Maule Valley, the Casablanca Valley, Coquimbo, Aconcagua and the Central Valley.

International eyes start to look at Chilean wine quality after a very surprising blind tasting in the 2004 Berlin event when two Chilean wines took the first- and second- place medals in the blind tasting, beating the much more famous quality wines such as Château Lafite, Château Margaux, Tignanello, and Sassicaia.

The most planted red grape in Chile is Cabernet Sauvignon but Carménère is the red grape that is associated with the nation. What is interesting is that Carménère and Merlot had similar characteristics and for many years had mixed plantings in the vineyards, until the formal identification in 1994 that some of the planting vines are actually the old Bordeaux variety Carmenère. But Chile is not only about red wine; white grapes are dominated by Sauvignon Blanc & Chardonnay.

For this tasting I am having fun with the glasses as I am trying different series of glasses from Riedel: Veloce, Performance and Wine Wings and all deliver the wine beautifully but my favourite is Riedel Performance, where the glass delivers the wine in full complex aroma and it is fun to get the layer of delicate aroma, the layer of wine flavour and texture to my palate.

For the Chilean wine review journey, I start with Santa Rita 120 Sauvignon Blanc, 2021 from Central Valley. Benefiting from terroir influence this wine is very fruity and has very nice acidity, a typical Sauvignon Blanc with a lot of citrus aroma in the    nose, yet very fresh, the level of acidity brings the acid of the delicious juice to the palate that stays longer as a medium finish with silky texture in the palate although the wine is light in body.

Then I chose the San Pedro 1865 Carmenere 2018, 1865 as the name of the wine presented as this Viña San Pedro  was founded in 1865 in the Curicó Valley. The long history of the winery makes San Pedro one of the most important vineyards in Chile. The wine comes from a specific vineyard in Maule Valley. Wine is pronounced in the aroma of red fruit character with a lot of plum and mixed berry with notable mint and pepper, medium tannin, medium acid, with high alcohol 14.5% on the palate, is very fruity with quite round and soft tannin with a hint of dark chocolate, leather, vanilla and baking spice. It was interesting that the Riedel Performance glass pushes them fruity aroma and gives a sweet note to the palate more compared to other glasses.

The next one is Santa Ema Barrel Reserve 60/40  from Maipo Valley. This is a blend of 60% Cabernet Sauvignon and 40% Merlot Barrel Reserve and is a deep ruby red colour with intense aromas of black fruit like blackberry, black currant, dark cherry and very juices prunes, a lot of vanilla, cinnamon, dark chocolate block, a lot of white paper influence  from American oak barrels that they use on ageing this wine. Full body, medium plus acidity and high in tannin, with   very smooth tannin, the wines are bold, complex and yummy.

The last one is Vina Von Siebenthal Parcela #7 2018 from Aconcagua Valley, this wine was only produced in a limited number of only 95,000 bottles and I am very lucky to have 1 bottle opened for me and my wine number is 86,511. This wine is the Bordeaux style in Chile, the blend is Cab. Sauvignon 40% Petit Verdot 30% Merlot 15% Cab. Franc 15%. It was an intense wine with a pronounced aroma  and I smell a very meaty aroma in the wine, bacon, cured meat a lot of herbs, you need to wait a couple of minutes when you swirl the glass then it expresses red berry, pure, blueberry, and blackcurrant is present. The balance is between aroma, fruit, herb and meat combined with the medium acidity, full body, and high tannin, so you could find how oak influences the balance of the tannin and adds flavour and complexity to the wine.

Cheers to Chile which also celebrated its Independence day on September 18, thank you for introducing us to the beauty and the diversity of these wines.


WSET Certified Educator / Head of Hatten Education Center

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